Every Dead Thing, a Charlie Parker Digital Diary Commentary.

 

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Every Dead Thing is the first book in the Charlie Parker thriller series by the Irish born author John Connolly. The thriller series follows the former police detective Charlie Parker as he attempts to solve some of the grizzliest and quite often supernatural murders. The first book is based around the murder of Parker’s wife and daughter which leads him to some terrifyingly dark places. Connolly has been described by the Independent as ‘A passionate advocate of crime fiction, he nevertheless kicks constantly against the limitations of his genre: his hard-boiled detective stories are regularly cut with supernatural narratives and literary prose.’[1]

It is Connolly’s influential writing that drew me to his stories, Every Dead Thing is a book that has many twists and turns with unexpected results which make it such a pleasure to read. While his characters don’t conform to what is generally expected of crime books, their profiles are unique and captivating, drawing you further into his writing. This led me to the decision of creating an online diary for Parker that allows me to write new unknown information to coincide with the first book. I found this idea attractive as, ‘Telling the same story from a different point of view, for instance, can create a manifestly different interpretation’ [2]. This project gave me the opportunity to create my own version of what happened behind the scenes of the book, getting into the head of Connolly and his writing style. As explained by Crime Fiction Lover ‘Charlie Parker books all offer solid and original mysteries. He is a PI, after all,’ [3] and this is what I will continue to portray.

The YouTube adaptation The Lizzie Bennet Diaries was a profound influence on me, they managed to recreate and tell an already famous and well known story and give it a new take, this introduced an entirely new audience. When the creator of the diaries spoke to Wired online magazine he explained ‘It’s a work of fiction, adapted into a video blog.’[4] I chose to do my own adaptation in the form of a blog as an outpost for Parker to express his feelings in diary form. I chose a blog as it gives the readers the opportunity to freely jump back and forth from each section of the story, allowing them to pick up where they left of whenever they return to my site. I also believe it will give me the chance to reach a new audience for the Charlie Parker series. ‘The medium can change a reader’s relationship to the text.’[5] Charlie’s blog will draw people into how he is coping personally after the deaths of his wife and child.

The diary is a companion for the book, it can be read alongside the book itself or after the book to give people further insights into Charlie’s story that they had not known before. This concept is a little like the digital adaptation Pottermore, ‘Pottermore is a new frame to expose Rowling’s stories’ [6] I had to carefully choose what tense my adaptation should be told in, I chose to stick to present tense so that the diary can follow alongside the book giving the user the feeling that Parker is actually updating this blog like a diary on a general day to day basis. I also had to carefully consider how well I would keep to the original timeline of the book. Though there is the main storyline in the first book Every Dead Thing it also has many important smaller storylines throughout that interconnect the entire book, however these can come in at different intervals and are sometimes insights from the past. I decided to stick as much as possible to the timeline so that if someone was reading it as a companion with the book they would not get any unwanted spoilers.

It was important for me to keep to Connolly’s style of writing and follow the voice he gave ‘Parker’ so I created a style guide that allowed me to ensure that I portrayed Parker exactly as he is described in the book. This gave me the chance to create completely new scenes of the story in the style of Connolly’s writing. Though I mimic Connolly’s writing, all the stories included in the diary are completely original, as I wanted to be careful I wasn’t just re-writing the book on a blog. The addition of images created from silhouettes further allowed me to portray Connolly’s characters as being elusive and mysterious. I chose to depict them in this way as the characters tend to have hidden pasts, unknown intentions and generally all are hiding from the law in some way or another.

Though I only had time to reach the first section of Connolly’s first book I have the opportunity and ability to continue the project as I now have the platform to follow Parker in his entirety through the whole series.

[1] The Independent John Connolly: ‘all you have is language. It’s an act of respect’, 2012. [Online] Available from:  http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/john-connolly-all-you-have-is-language-its-an-act-of-respect-8034584.html [Accessed 01 April 2015].

[2] Hutcheon, Linda A Theory of Adaptation [Online]. London: Routledge, 2006. Available from: https://www.dawsonera.com/readonline/9780203095010# [Accessed 01 April 2015].

[3] Crime Fiction Lover A guide to John Connolly’s Charlie Parker, 2014. [Online] Available from: http://www.crimefictionlover.com/2014/05/a-guide-to-john-connollys-charlie-parker-2/ [Accessed 02 April 2015].

[4] Andersen, Michael ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries brings Jane Austen to YouTube’. Wired, May 2012. [Online] Available from: http://www.wired.com/2012/05/the-lizzie-bennet-diaries-brings-jane-austen-to-youtube/ [Accessed 02 April 2015].

[5] Vandendorpe, Christian From Papyrus to Hypertext: Toward the Universal Digital Library. Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 2009.

[6] ina global Pottermore: Harry Potter’s Final Battle Will Be Digital, 2011. [Online] Available from: http://www.inaglobal.fr/en/publishing/article/pottermore-harry-potters-final-battle-will-be-digital [Accessed 02 April 2015].

Bibliography:

Connolly,John Every Dead Thing: A Charlie Parker Thriller. London: Hodder & Stroughton ltd, 2010.

Visit Charlie Parker’s Diary here:  https://charlieparkerthrillers.wordpress.com/

View additional work here: https://drive.google.com/a/bathspa.ac.uk/file/d/0B46lMIJmkG7gd2FEelk0dlZpT0E/view?usp=sharing

 

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